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Master in

Plant breeding

Next edition: 1st part: September 2020 – June 2021 / 2nd part: September 2021 – June 2022

Master in

Plant breeding

General information on the Unit

Contact hours: 44 (31 lectures, 13 practicals)
Personal work hours: 56
Character: Compulsory
Venue: Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza and laboratory of the Department of Pomology of the Experimental Station of Aula Dei of CSIC.
- Developed during the first academic year of the Master, at the beginning of the second semester.
- The assessment of this Unit is made during the second semester through a written exam and the assessment of the practicals performed.
Requisites and permanence
There are no previous requisites
Learning methods
Combination of theoretical and practical classes and individual study and work.
Lecturers deliver the course in Spanish. The documents supplied by the lecturers may be written in Spanish or in English.

Presentation of the Unit and context within the syllabus

The unit focuses on several special methods and techniques used in plant breeding programmes such as massive phenotyping tools, data management, germplasm management, strategies for fast-track material development, in vitro techniques and wide crosses. Not only are methods and techniques described, but also the advantages of their inclusion in traditional breeding programmes are highlighted. Case studies are conducted and laboratory practicals on in vitro techniques and in-field phenotyping are carried out.



Specific competences

  • SC2 Identifying and assessing phenotypic and genetic variability and determining the components of variation.
  • SC4 Understanding and using quantitative tools to solve biological, mathematical and statistical problems.
  • SC7 Assessing the relevant methods and techniques that contribute to greater efficiency in the processes of selection and development of new varieties, particularly molecular techniques aimed at the development of marker-assisted selection programmes.
  • SC9 Integrating the knowledge of plant physiology, biochemistry and pathology in a plant breeding programme.

General competences

  • GC1 Integrating scientific and technical knowledge and applying them discerningly.
  • GC2 Performing scientific and/or technical information searches and processing them selectively.
  • GC3 Analyzing results or strategies and elaborating conclusions which contribute to clarify the problems and to find possible solutions.


Learning outcomes

The student, at the end of the learning of this Unit:

  • Knows different techniques for mass phenotyping and environmental characterization, as well as the instrumentation required to perform them.
  • Is familiar with the different computer systems for the management of genealogies and types of germplasm in a breeding programme.
  • Knows how to shorten development times of advanced genotypes in a breeding programme.
  • Can use different in vitro culture techniques, understands their application at the different stages of a breeding programme, and has gained some practical laboratory experience.
  • Knows the in vivo and in vitro procedures and techniques used in interspecific and intergeneric crosses, and can assess their use in the transfer of genes of interest.



  • Phenotyping tools  
  • Data management
  • Germplasm management
  • Managing reproductive systems
  • Tools for fast track development
  • Off-season and controlled environment nurseries
  • Double haploids
  • Juvenility management
  • In vitro techniques
  • Wide crosses          


Learning activities

Learning activity 1: Lectures combined with case studies
ECTS: 3.3
Hours: 82.5
Percentage of contact: 38%

Learning activity 2: In-field practicals on measurement of phenotype traits, including automatic systems for data acquisition
ECTS: 0.4
Hours: 10
Percentage of contact: 75%

Learning activity 3: Practical sessions in the lab on in vitro culture. The practicals are carried out in the laboratory of the Department of Pomology of the Experimental Station of Aula Dei of CSIC. During these practicals, students learn to prepare nutrient media, both solid and liquid and establish explants of different species, where they observe the different regeneration pathways: axillary buds, adventitious organogenesis and somatic embryogenesis. After 4-8 weeks, students assess the percentages of contamination and development of viable cultures.
ECTS: 0.5
Hours: 10
Percentage of contact: 75%


Assessment method

Assessment system 1: Written exam, composed by questions provided by the different lecturers of the Unit. The questions are either multiple choice or concrete ones requiring a short development. The exam assesses the content of lectures and the understanding of the in-field and laboratory practicals.
In the written exam, the questions which are not multiple choice are marked according to the technical and conceptual precision of the answer, and to the reasoning approach.
Weighting: 75% of the final score of the Unit

Assessment system 2: Global assessment of the laboratory practicals by the lecturers in charge of them. Understanding of the methodology, skill in the development of the practical and validity of the results will be assessed.
Weighting: 25% of the final score of the Unit



Aránzazu ARBELOA, CSIC-EEAD, Zaragoza (Spain)
Ana CASTILLO, CSIC-EEAD, Zaragoza (Spain)
Xavier DOMINGO, Eurecat, Lleida (Spain)
Elena GARCÍA, CSIC-EEAD, Zaragoza (Spain)
Nicolás JOUVE, Univ. Alcalá (Spain)
Shawn C. KEFAUVER, Univ. Barcelona (Spain)
Juan MARÍN, CSIC-EEAD, Zaragoza (Spain)
Mónica MENZ, Syngenta, Toulouse (France)
Concepción MUÑOZ, Univ. Córdoba (Spain)
Fernando PLIEGO, Univ. Málaga (Spain)